Rural general practitioners have heard that an ageing health workforce could reach crisis point in the next five years.
The Rural GP Network's annual conference is under way in Queenstown, with its theme The Changing Face of Rural Health.
Its chair, Dr Joseph Scott-Jones, says rural areas remain hard to staff, and more focus must be placed on younger health professionals to plug the gaps.
He says an impending crisis needs to be planned for, with nurses and doctors getting older, and looking to retire in the next five to 10 years.
About 300 rural GPs are at the conference, which finishes on Sunday.